This is an incredibly easy, colorful, flavorful, textural summer salad experience. I’ve eaten it two days in a row now for lunch. And I may have it again tomorrow. This might be a problem if it weren’t a salad.
And it all came about because I didn’t want to do dishes.
You see, the other day I was preparing some of The Pioneer Woman‘s BBQ Bacon Jalapeno Poppers. (Sorry no recipe link – it’s only in her first cookbook) They are to die for and have become a party staple at our house because everyone just loves them. I could eat six of them in five minutes. You know, I could…not that I ever did, mind you…
Anyway, my oven safe rack was already baconed up so I thought why not make some candied bacon?!? If you’ve never had it, candied bacon is incredibly easy to make and mind-blowingly delicious. And what better way to consume it than over a bed of healthy baby arugula? Score!
Here’s everything you need right here – arugula, goat cheese, peaches, and the candied bacon (we’ll get to that part in a second). Now, I was only making salad for myself so I only have one peach here. I’d say one peach/person would be good. For a main dish salad anyway. For side salads probably half a peach would work for each.
For the candied bacon – just take some bacon slices (mine were pre-cut in halves for the poppers but they don’t have to be), and toss them around in some brown sugar.
I sorta cleaned my rack for this shot.
Place them on an oven safe rack over an aluminum foil lined rimmed baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about half an hour or until done to your liking. (You’ll want to watch them closely after that 30 minute mark as they go from wiggly to burnt in a very short amount of time. I left mine in a couple minutes too long and they were a bit too dark for my taste.)
Don’t you just love it when your peaches are perfectly ripe and the skin just peels right off? Nom. Wonderful.
For the dressing I made a super quick mustardy vinaigrette. This is everything you need right here. I love vinaigrettes because they’re so easy to remember and freehand with whatever you’ve got lying around. 3 parts oil : 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon/lime juice) plus flavor additions. I love how the slight sweetness of the apple cider vinegar compliments the bacon and peaches.
If you have a cruet like this one you get to go the easy route and just pour up to the lines. If not, it’s still really quick and easy. (And you don’t need to add water. That’s what the “W” stands for. I find adding even a little bit of water makes a vinaigrette too thin unless you plan on adding a ton of dry ingredients – like a packet of salad dressing mix or something.)
The peaches are sweet, tart, and succulent. The goat cheese tangy, creamy, and smooth. The arugula green and dry and slightly bitter. The bacon salty, savory, sweet, and crispy. Paired with a simple mustardy vinaigrette that brings it all together? Perfect.
Arugula Salad with Peaches and Candied Bacon
8 cups baby arugula
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
6 slices bacon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place an oven safe rack over it.
Dredge bacon slices in brown sugar and lay flat on rack.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until done to your liking. Allow to cool and crumble.
Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk (or shake, if you have a cruet) to emulsify.
Portion out arugula between 4 plates, top with goat cheese, peaches, and candied bacon.
Drizzle with dressing and serve.
Makes 4 main dish salads.